Duel Decks- Sorin vs Tibalt: Tibalt’s Deck Review (Part 2 of 2)
At long last, having reviewed both decks it’s time to see how they fare in battle! Joining me at the table is Jimi, ready to pilot Sorin’s deck to victory. Can Tibalt turn the tables while he turns the screws?
I’m on the play, and lead with a Swamp while Jimi opens her account with a Plains and a Doomed Traveler. Next turn I scoop my Swamp back up to permit the deployment of a Rakdos Carnarium. Back to Jimi, she attacks for 1 with the Traveler, which allows her to play a bloodthirsted Duskhunter Bat– a good start.
Now turn 3, I play a Swamp and pass. Jimi attacks with both beaters for 3, then adds a second Traveler. Over to me, I then bring out my first creature, a Lavaborn Muse. Undaunted, Jimi presses her advantage, turning all three creatures sideways. I block one of the Travelers with the Muse, and Jimi makes it a trade with a Vampire’s Bite– paying the kicker for the lifegain to go up to 24. Both creatures die, but Jimi’s gets repalced by a 1/1 Spirit token, while I also slip to 12 life.
Now turn 5, I drop Jimi to 21 with a Blightning, emptying her hand in the process (a Mark of the Vampire and Decompose). Jimi then drops down a Phantom General, sending in the side for 5 to leave me at 7. So far, it’s not been the most impressive showing for Tibalt, but things seem to turn a corner when I then Terminate the General to set up a Pyroclasm. This kills off Jimi’s board, though she gets a replacement Spirit token from the remaining Traveler. Back to Jimi, she lamely attacks for 1 then passes.
A turn 7 Hellrider lets me get in my first attack, swinging in with it for 3 on top of the 1-point ping. I then add a Goblin Arsonist and pass. Back to Jimi, she basic landcycles an Absorb Vis for a Plains, then attacks once more in the air to leave me at 5. Net turn, I attack with both the Hellrider and Arsonist to slash Jimi to 11, then add a Vithian Stinger before bringing out Tibalt himself. I then use his builder to add a loyalty counter, drawing a Mountain and throwing away a perfectly good Skirsdag Cultist. Jimi then buys some time with a Revenant Patriarch, using White mana so that my next combat phase is skipped. She attacks for 1 with the Spirit, and it’s a race.
Now turn 9, I activate Tibalt again, gaining an Ashmouth Hound and losing that Mountain. Next I summon a Mad Prophet and trigger its looting. I throw away an Akoum Refuge, picking up a Flame Javelin– a nice trade-up. Back to Jimi, I ping her Spirit with my Stinger during her upkeep. In return, she Unmakes my Hellrider. She then swings in with the Patriarch, forcing me to chump with the Arsonist. I send the point of ping damage Jimi’s way, and she’s now down to 10. Over to me, I attack for 2 with the Prophet, then play a Coal Stoker. I use the ‘mana rebate’ it gives me to fuel a Flame Javelin, targeting Jimi directly. Comically, I activate Tibalt again, losing the Ashmouth Hound and gaining back a Mountain. For her part, Jimi counterattacks for 4 with the Patriarch, and I offer the Stoker in trade. She then plays a Mausoleum Guard, and I ping her with the Stinger at end of turn.
Now turn 11, I complete the comback. A Recoup sets up a lethal Blightning, and Tibalt has stolen the first match.
Again Jimi leads with a Doomed Traveler, while I play a Mountain and pass. She attacks in next turn, then repeats her previous start with a bloodthirsted Duskhunter Bat. I don’t take quite so long to develop, though, as I immediately plunk down a Hellspark Elemental, getting in 3 off its haste before having to sacrifice it. Back to Jimi, she counterattacks for 3 of her own, then to my display summons a Bloodrage Vampire, similarly bloodthirsted.
Now turn 4, Jimi moves to stick a Mark of the Vampire on her Bloodrage Vampire, forcing me to snuff it out with a Flame Javelin in response. Chagrined, she settles for attacking with her Traveler and Bat for 3, leaving me at 13. Over to me, I claw a point back with an Akoum Refuge, then summon a Vithian Stinger. Next turn, Jimi attacks for 3 more, setting up a bloodthirsted Vampire Outcasts. At 11 life, my turn is a blank.
Now turn 6, I ping Jimi’s Traveler during her upkeep, killing it and replacing it with a 1/1 Spirit. She then attacks in for 6 with the team, though I blunt the impact when I Terminate the Outcasts. With me at 9 life, Jimi retaliates by Mortifying my Stinger, then uses Decompose to exile my Stinger, Elemental, and Terminate from my graveyard. For my part, I play a Mountain and pass. Back to Jimi, she then summons a Mesmeric Fiend. I snap off a Strangling Soot in response, killing the Bat. Then hand over my hand of cards. Jimi exiles my Browbeat then attacks for in with the Spirit, then adds another Doomed Traveler to the board. I get the Browbeat right back, though, when I flashback the Soot to kill off the Fiend once my turn rolls around. I have no other play, and end at 8 life.
Now turn 8, Jimi attacks in with her Traveler and Spirit before passing. I Browbeat her, and she takes the 5 damage to fall to 12. Then I add a Shambling Remains, and ship the turn. Back to Jimi, she refills her hand with Ancient Craving, going down to 9 life. She then summons a Twilight Drover, then attacks in for 1 with the Spirit. Back to me, I kill off the Drover with a Flame Slash, then add a Skirsdag Cultist. I swing in with the Remains, and Jimi chumps with the Doomed Traveler, giving her another 1/1 Spirit.
A turn-10 Phantom General nearly spells my end, as Jimi sends in the Spirits for 4. I battle right back, though, sending in the Remains to hammer her for 4. Down to 5, she gets anxious when I sac the Remains to the Cultist to Shock her for 2 more, and nearly in a panic when I then add a Sulfuric Vortex. Although she falls to 1 on her upkeep from the enchantment, I can’t take advantage. It’s a reminder of Tibalt’s power, but in the end the victory is hers.
With a game apiece, we’re eager to declare a winner as we kick off the final game of the match. I open with a Mountain, while Jimi once again leads with the frustrating sight of an opening Doomed Traveler. Next turn I play the Rakdos Carnarium, while Jimi attacks for 1 then doubles down with a Child of Night.
Now turn 3, I replay my Mountain and pass. Jimi adds a Tainted Field, then attacks with both beaters. I snipe off the Child with a Geistflame, taking 1 from the Traveler to go to 18. Back to me, I then bring out the Sulfuric Vortex. Passing turn, Jimi falls to 18 from the enchantment, attacks for 1 to put me to 17, and ends her turn.
Now turn 5, I fall to 15 life. I then cast Browbeat, and with the Vortex on board Jimi grudgingly gives me the three cards. With my hand overfull, I discard a Scourge Devil and pass. Back to Jimi, she falls to 16. She attacks for 1 with the Traveler, enabling bloodthirst for her Vampire Outcasts. Back to me, I summon a Vithian Stinger and pass. Back to Jimi, she attacks with the Traveler and Outcasts for 5, but I Terminate the Outcasts. Jimi then uses Sorin’s Thirst to kill my Stinger, but doesn’t gain the life thanks to the Vortex. Thanks to that enchantment, it’s a 14-11 game as the turn ends, and rapidly approaching its climax.
After losing another 2 life on turn 7, I unearth my Scourge Devil and attack in with it for 4 to leave Jimi at 10. I then add an Ashmouth Hound and pass. Jimi goes big, answering with a Butcher of Malakir, then attacks for 1 with the Traveler. I let it pass, and we’re now even at 8 life apiece. Over to me, I attack in with the Hound for 2, and Jimi blocks with the Butcher. I then unearth the Stinger to finish off the Butcher, followed by a Browbeat. To my surprise, Jimi takes the damage rather than let me dig for more cards- obviously confident she’s got the game wrapped up. With her at 3 and me at 6 I pass the turn, and Jimi cranks out an Absorb Vis! Although she gains no life from it, that drops me to 2 life- just enough to die from my own Sulfuric Vortex.
Now turn 9, I eye my enchantment as I enter my untap phase, then move to my upkeep. I put the enchantment’s trigger on the stack… then respond to it by flashing back my Geistflame to snipe Jimi for 1! Whether that’s a win or a draw I’ll leave to those better steeped in the finer points of the law than me- Jimi and I were too busy falling out laughing to worry.
Thoughts & Analysis
Maybe it was the fact that the baby was enjoying himself in the other room, watching ‘Oscar’ with his big sister. Maybe it was the fresh cup of coffee I was enjoying with a tipple of Jameson’s in it, with a little whipped cream on the top. Or maybe it was just solid deck design, but when Jimi and I wrapped up our match, the consensus was clear: we couldn’t recall a recent game where we’d had more fun playing. Sorin vs Tibalt was an absolute blast to play, and if the results are anything to go by, quite balanced to boot.
Often when we’ve played Duel Decks, we’ve felt that the game was a race to see who could land their better bombs or hoser cards first. Over time, though, they’ve seemed to develop a deeper level of intricacy as they’ve explored themes and the interplay between the decks. Sorin vs Tibalt felt like great design, with loads of cut-and-thrust to keep things interesting. I was initially very excited, for instance, to find Pyroclasm in my opening hand, as it can be a beating against an unprepared opponent. But when Jimi’s early plays were Doomed Travelers, I began to see just how well-meched these decks were. That Pyroclasm is a great hedge against getting overrun with Spirit tokens, but by the same toke some of Jimi’s creatures are quite resilient against it, and even come out ahead (in the case of the Doomed Traveler).
Hits: Great theme, playing up the sadistic “punisher” aspect of Tibalt; superb card selection, though a Vexing Devil would have seemed a perfect fit here; loads of fun through interactivity with the Sorin deck
Misses: Although the deck is rather clever, it can be too clever by half if you draw too much of the “set-up” cards and not enough of the payoff ones
OVERALL SCORE: 4.75/5.00